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Supporting People (SP) is a flagship Government programme that provides nearly 900 housing related support services, delivered by 106 organisations, across NI. SP allows more than 20000 vulnerable people to live independently, preventing problems that can result in hospitalisation, institutional care or homelessness.
It provides a crucial safety net to these vulnerable and marginalised people, and is a real 'invest to save' programme. For example, the homelessness sector is the single biggest recipient of SP funding in N. Ireland.
SP IS PROVEN TO WORK
Research has demonstrated
that SP is an ‘invest to save’ programme delivering net financial benefits by reducing demand on other public services;
SP saves the public purse £125m per year;
every £1 spent on SP services saves the public purse £1.90;
if SP were not available, £762.86m would be needed to fund alternative services.
THE CURRENT ISSUE
SP schemes face a very real financial challenge and an uncertain future. Funding for SP schemes has been frozen for seven years, a ‘real terms’ cut of over 20%, and providers are encountering unavoidable financial pressures: the funding freeze is causing major problems.
SP is also currently subject to a government review, and without strong measures in place to protect services, there is a distinct danger that those in most need may lose out. Without an appropriate budget increase, the quality and range of services provided to 20,000 vulnerable and marginalised people will be reduced.
This will severely affect the quality of life for 20,000 vulnerable and marginalised people and may remove a vital safety net that ensures their well-being and independence. This, in turn, will result in a greater cost burden on other public spending, despite empirical evidence of the programme’s impact. In addition, the NIHE Homelessness Strategy, launched in April this year, will be effectively undeliverable.
In August 2017, the coalition successfully secured a one-off £2.6m allocation for the programme, but the SP budget requires an urgent increase through monitoring rounds or in the overall Departmental budget. Ideally, there should be a commitment for funding to be adjusted for inflationary uplifts and ring-fenced for five years.
We're calling publicly for this to happen to ensure that SP schemes are adequately resourced. If we’re serious about ending homelessness and ensuring adequate care and protection for all in society, then boosting SP is the best place to start.